By Aidan Johnson

Amid the warm summer weather, music filled the air on Saturday, July 30, at the second annual Port Palooza. 

Frank Doris, member of Grand Folk Railroad (left) and Kevin Wood, event creator (right).

Kevin Wood, the creator of this new local tradition, brought multiple bands together into one event at Harborfront Park in Port Jefferson. Wood, a Port Palooza performer himself, was happy to share that there was no cover charge to attend. He dedicated his first song to Dom Famularo, a jazz drummer and close friend of his. 

“Being a part of the village and my role in the village of Port Jefferson inspires me to just give back to it,” Wood said. He added that the event also helped raise money for a good cause. “Port Palooza is about bringing musicians together with one another and, most importantly, raising money for animal rescue and recovery through Jaeger’s Run, our partner in this.”

Jaeger’s Run Animal Rescue Inc. is a nonprofit organization coordinated by Lisa Jaeger. It helps in the rehabilitation of sick, abandoned and injured wildlife and domestic animals.

Lisa Jaeger, coordinator of Jaeger’s Run Animal Rescue Inc., above.
Photo by Aidan Johnson

“Port Jefferson was kind enough to showcase us at the Port Palooza this year,” Jaeger said. “All of the funds that are raised are going into our animal rescue and rehabilitation [programs].”

Jaeger could hardly express the gratitude she felt after receiving the funds. “When it comes to animals, people are very generous,” she said. “It makes me feel good that people appreciate the volunteer work that we do and the timeless hours we put into it. Events like this help us to continue the work we’re doing.”

Each band that performed had its own unique sound. Grand Folk Railroad, one of the bands in attendance, played covers of popular songs such as “Ooh Child” by the Five Stairsteps. 

The group, which consists of Mike Christian, Susan Schwartz-Christian, Gary Schoenberger, Bill Resvanis and Frank Doris, has been around for about 13 years.

“We played at last year’s event, and now we’re back again this year,’’ Doris said. “We got a really good reaction, and it’s always fun to play.”

Susan Schwartz-Christian, member of Grand Folk Railroad, autographs an electric guitar. Photo by Aidan Johnson

Cole Fortier, who has performed in both festivals, said he enjoyed being a part of it once again. 

“I was the opening slot today,” he said. Commenting on the time he had, he added, “I’ve been kind of running around, but I’m living it up. It was really exhilarating.”

While Port Palooza was successful, the event had to overcome its own set of obstacles.

“We came across a few problems,” said Walter Parbudin, a volunteer at the festival. “The skin at the top [of a drum] ripped, so we couldn’t even play it. We found out at 11:30 a.m., and the show started at noon, but I had to go out to Selden to get a new one before the show started. However, the event went really well.”

As much as Wood enjoys putting together these events, he feels that he needs some time off. “I just did the dog festival, and now this one,” he said. “I have to hibernate and rest for six months.”

However, when he is ready to hold another event, the people of Port Jefferson will be ready to partake in it.

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